Pipe Down, Media: Zoella Isn’t Yours to Slate for Clickbait

Zoella criticism

Since October Sammy Jones has been watching copy-cat hate articles about ‘too-safe’ and ‘Disney-fied’ Zoella pop up all over the internet. Sammy doesn’t think that’s cool. Not cool at all.

Slating crazy-popular YouTuber Zoella seems to be in fashion for journalists these days. Zoella is the alter-ego of Zoë Sugg, whose YouTube channel has a following on par with Christianity’s (at least among teen girls). Her debut novel has just smashed the record for the most first week book sales EVER and she has over 6.6 million YouTube subscribers. As her popularity has shot through the stratosphere, she’s garnered high-profile haters along the way, including a gang of snotty journalists working for broadsheet newspapers. And while Zoella’s audience fall in the 13 to 16-year-old age range, these journalists… cough… don’t.

Zoella’s 2.5 million Twitter followers were slightly offended. In fact, they WENT OFF

The first social media storm occurred soon after The Independent’s Chloe Hamilton thought it would be a good time to slam Zoella over her ‘sickly sweet’ vlogging, branding it full of ‘inane chatter’ and ‘beauty tutorials’. Yeah I know man, that Zoella, super scary. Weirdly, Zoella’s 2.5 million Twitter followers were slightly offended. In fact, they WENT OFF. Hamilton had a stream of abuse through her Twitter feed ranging from being called ‘bully’ to the insane promise from a fervent fan that she would defecate on Hamilton’s mother.

Chloe Hamilton tweet

Source: www.twitter.com

Chloe didn’t seem that bovved though; she had her traffic after all. Discussing the aftermath of the Zoella Twitterstorm she thanked the people who shared the article (all 30k of them) and credited her abusers for giving her ‘enough material for another column’. 30k shares for slamming a YouTube vlogger?! That sounds like a good prospect to me, and an easy one, too. At least that’s what writers at The Metro, the Telegraph, and Huffington Post thought, anyway. All aboard the hate train, first stop Ad Revenue Island.

Chloe Hamilton last paragraph

Source: www.independent.co.uk

While Hamilton’s distaste for Zoella seems to stem from a hate of all things ‘Disney-fied’ (?!?), The Independent’s Daisy Buchanan hates on Zoë for playing it ‘safe’. In a world where girls are vilified for drinking, smoking and sex, she’s frightened that Zoella’s bland channel is encouraging her teens to strive for too little.

The way the media deals with young people is either demonising them or TRIVIALISING them

Slamming young people in the press is a tried-and-true method of scoring readers. There’s nothing The Independent would like to tell you more that young women are silly dolts with vacuums where their brains should be. Fear sells and the erosion of young minds by ‘bad influence’ Zoë is a terrifying prospect for easily click-baited mums nationwide. The way the media deals with young people is either demonising them or trivialising them.

Zoë looking exasperated

Source: www.tumblr.com

If you listened to any of these columnists, you’d be led to believe her teenage audience is a bunch of brainless simpletons who would follow Zoë’s life mantras to the letter, be that into a shark’s jaws or into a burning building. Um, have you talked to a teenage girl lately? By tapping into the public’s love for being snobby about something they don’t understand, these columns combine the media’s condescension towards young people with a sense of ‘I don’t know what it is and I’m a bit scared of it, so I’m going to criticise it’.

If you listened to any of these columnists, you’d be led to believe her teenage audience is a bunch of brainless simpletons

It breaks my heart that it’s women who are writing the worst of the slurs. Where are the male commentators? You might argue that they aren’t Zoella’s target audience, but neither are Hamilton or Buchanan. Honestly, this petty commentary smacks of jealousy and reinforces stereotypes around catfights and female in-fighting, a view of women that is antiquated, boring and just plain frustrating. The male writers have obviously been given more interesting things to write about, and that makes me sad.

Zoella saying, 'oh yeah!'

Source: www.twitter.com

My advice to Zoella’s audience? Please don’t give these writers the satisfaction of your traffic. It’s a thinly-veiled play on your emotions for views. If this keeps happening, who knows who’ll be next? Bullying is not okay, and neither is the image of the teenage girl as dumb worshipper without any opinions of her own. My advice to the newspapers? Please stop; you’re turning the next generation of news readers against you. You think your traffic is low now? Think about it in ten years time.

Zoella blowing kisses

Source: www.giphy.com

What do you think? Does our Zo deserve all this hate? Do you think these journalists are chasing views, or offering genuine opinions? What about  Tweet us here or Facebook us here, or indeed tweet me at my personal Twitter here

Support more young people to have their voices heard

Rife is Watershed‘s online magazine created for young people, by young people.

We offer paid internships and publish work by young writers, photographers, illustrators, and filmmakers from all sorts of backgrounds, helping them get into creative careers. Rife has reached over 8,000 young people through our workshops, over 220 young people have made stuff for Rife on topics ranging from mental health to identity to baked beans, and last year, over 200,000 people visited our website.

In these complex and uncertain times hearing from and supporting young people who are advocating for social change and contributing fresh perspectives has never been so important. 

Through supporting Rife you can ensure that this important work continues and that more young people have their voices heard.